Dr Emma Russell
La Trobe University
As an archive, how are you today reflects a regime of border entrapment that does not look or sound like we expect it to. The prior structure of Manus prison has been forcibly abandoned, but its violent carceral logics have not. Far from the classic notion of the prison as ‘total institution’, confinement on Manus has decentralised and multiplied, reinvigorating Foucault’s (1995, 297) conception of the ‘carceral archipelago’—a ‘subtle, graduated carceral net with compact institutions, but also separate and diffused methods’. how are you today thus arrives at a moment in which carceral power is mutating and morphing in border zones of expulsion and confinement: where the boundaries between inside/outside are blurred and restricted mobilities are navigated in conditions of profound unfreedom. The artwork and now archive asks us to attune to the daily rhythms of stuckness—and contend with the tension between lives ‘on hold’ and in (various stages of) motion. Prompted by Angela Davis and Gina Dent’s (2001) provocation that prison is a border, this paper explores theories of carcerality that account for the centrality of mobilities to regimes of punitive confinement and expulsion. Such ideas might help us to listen to life on Manus differently: to earwitness the border violence that underpins the everyday—and the practices of resistance that expose and challenge it.
Emma Russell is a Lecturer in Crime, Justice & Legal Studies at La Trobe University. She researches predominantly in the fields of queer criminology and critical carceral studies. Taking an interdisciplinary approach, her work explores themes of power, violence, and resistance in contexts of policing and punitive confinement. She is particularly interested in activist archives, anti-carceral feminism and queer theory, the optics of police power, and carceral geographies of sound. Emma is the author of Queer Histories and the Politics of Policing (in press) and co-author of Resisting Carceral Violence: Women’s Imprisonment and the Politics of Abolition (2018). In 2018 she produced the radio documentary ‘Wring Out Fairlea’ about the historic mass protests at the former Fairlea women’s prison in Melbourne.